i put on my clothes, grabbed a pair of scissors, then went into the basement. unfortunately i was so freaked out about the cool air that i reset the temperature on the thermostat so i wasn't able to read the error code (it was simply flashing amber, which meant normal heating mode). with the scissors, i found a spare 16x20x1 filter (for my old furnace) and cut it down to 14x20x1. this was an idea i'd been toying with all last night, figured if it worked i could recycle some spare filters, saved me from having to visit the hardware store today.
i turned the furnace back on and went upstairs. heat was coming out from the vents, which was a good sign. i waited. after a few minutes, cool air began blowing. i didn't panic right away, this is normal with my furnace, it pumps a minute of cool air before and after every heat cycle. but it seemed a bit long, so i went back downstairs to check. it was flashing 8 reds, which meant something was wrong with the flame sensor. but a few seconds later the furnace turned off the fan and the status light became a green standby. so maybe what i saw was just the ending of a normal heat cycle.
i chatted with sunmeng briefly about her office hosting gig last night for their chinese new year gala. as i suspected, her company managed to snare her into performing with the office lady bellydancers she'd been teaching for the past month.
on the next heat cycle, i waited anxiously to see what would happen. after a few minutes of heating, cold air started blowing out. so the new filter had no effect. i went back into the basement (so much back and forth since last night, there was a trail of snowy footprints to match the fresh snow that was beginning to fall). originally i wanted to remove the flame sensor to clean it, but what are the odds of a barely 3-month old furnace with a busted flame sensor? besides, it was kind of a challenge to remove, so i decided against it. i tried a test where i cranked the heat up by 10 degrees to see how the furnace would perform. after a few minutes, i saw the furnace thumping like it's trying to draw air, then i noticed the burners went out because the diagnostic light was flashing red 8 again. whatever the problem, the thumping seemed to be related. at that point i gave up, figured i'd let the professional handle it.
i called my father who in turned called xiao wu, who told him he might be able to swing by my place in the afternoon.
after a hot shower (figured i'd make good use of the warm bathroom before my house plunges into the cold), i did some cleaning in preparation for the HVAC repair man visit. i finally took down my circa 1990's college aiwa stereo from on top of one of my kitchen cabinets. i haven't used it since forever and it just takes up space. in its place i put an assortment of glassware (vases and jars).
it got cold in the house with the thermostat set to just 59 degrees. the furnace did cycle a few times, but fortunately all with a minimum of heating that it didn't trip off the flames. what if the repairman doesn't show up today? would i have to suffer through a weekend without heat?
around 3:00 my father called me to let me know xiao wu would be coming to my place in 20 minutes. i went outside to shovel a bit more snow from the sidewalk until he arrived. i took him to the basement and explained the problem, firing up the furnace remotely via wifi to the nest thermostat upstairs. the first thing he noticed when he took off the cover was that the water pump wasn't working. he pulled some rubber tubes from inside the furnace, blew into some to force the water to drain, and made sure nothing was kinked. that seemed to do the trick and i began to hear the gurgling sound of water being pumped into the main water drain up on the side of the wall.
that was one problem fixed but it wasn't the problem i saw. i put back the cover and we waited for the thumping i saw earlier. it took a bit longer than before, but thump it did. xiao wu took a minute to think what was wrong and determined that the furnace wasn't getting enough oxygen. fortunately on either side of the furnace box are covered holes. he cut out the insulation, put a plastic cap over it, and cut out a small slit with a knife. that seemed to do the trick, now with air being from outside the house and from the basement itself. i offered to pay but he said not to bother, since the furnace was so new, so this tune up was part of the original installation cost.
after he left, i stayed outside a little bit longer to shovel a bit more ice and snow with my neighbor renee before coming back inside. even though the temperature was only set to 60 degrees, it still felt toasty, like a properly heated house. later i went to star market to get some snacks and drinks for the super bowl on sunday.
for dinner i heated up a portion of the vodka sauce i made a few days ago along with some rotini/penne pasta mix.